Back in early 2015, my old Dell Latitude with some old Intel Core 2 and 2GB of RAM seemingly started to fail, and it in and of itself was starting to bother me with web browsers closing all the time because of low RAM and being weak even for playing games from 2004 and earlier. And so I had to start finding a new laptop to replace it. Then, I researched and compared CPUs and iGPs a lot among other things to try and find a suitable, reliable, and relevant replacement. Eventually, I discovered /r/pcmasterrace (don't remember how), then through there I found out that building your own PC was a thing you could do, along with PC gaming as a real widespread thing. So, I started becoming interested in PC building sometime in May of 2015. But I never really began learning much until towards the end of August. I eventually thought I knew enough to help people at the end of October 2015, which is when I made this account. Of course, I was wrong, but it's in the past now.
If you have a question, message me and I will do my best to answer it.
I sometimes go over the top with comments for future reference.
I believe that having a good understanding of how PC parts and their components work is something that's important if you're interested in them, so as to avoid fear and misinformation, make better decisions, and fill in the gaps where there isn't information available.
I happen to find DRAM, SSDs, CPUs, and PSUs interesting (in that order).
Sometimes, I might forget about you and not reply to a message or comment reply of yours to me. Sometimes I'm messaging or replying to someone through inbox, and your message or comment gets buried beneath and I never notice. If you really want a reply from me, then try messaging or replying to me again.
Also, you can find me on steam.
You can also find me in the official PCPP Discord. If I'm not asleep and/or offline (which is the case most of the time), you can get a quick response from me especially if you message me through Discord directly or mention me in a message.
Primary contents of my profile
Using the site visual tutorials
Most recent build guides of mine
Forum posts that may interest you
My "learning thread"
Knowledgeable users whose advice you can trust much of the time
Other cool users
Some recent news
Some questions you might have: Answered in a somewhat technical but no nonsense way
Links of interest
Tips on expanding your knowledge
Equations and stuff
My go-to reviewers for power supplies
My go-to reviewers for motherboards
My go-to reviewers for CPU coolers
My go-to reviewers for fans
My go-to reviewers for SSD and HDD reviews
My go-to reviewers for cases
My go-to reviewers for video cards or GPUs
My go-to reviewers for CPUs
My go-to reviewers for monitors
Simply copy the relevant section you want to go to, press and hold ctrl and press F, then paste. Press the down arrow to go to the relevant section. Otherwise, the formatting above should help to scroll to the section you want. I put this here because my profile is absurdly long so quick navigation is nice to have.
As you might have noticed, only staff build guides are in the build guides section. This is because staff stopped indexing user-made build guides. I may still make build guides, but me, like many other users, have less drive to do so now.
A $1250 Quiet Gaming PC build guide is currently WIP and can be seen in the build guides section of my profile. I will link it here when the description is finished.
Build guides of mine NOT listed here are likely to have pricing inconsistent with when they were made, may have out of date or flat out wrong information, or may have bad part choices. Look at them if you want to, but I suggest only following build guides listed above.
This thread contains links for people to learn a bit about things like CPUs, monitors, computer fans, SSDs, and more. It's not meant for beginners only and can get really technical in some links, so be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. For each section, I ordered and categorized for complexity and depth in such a way that you can more easily progress in your knowledge of a given thing.
If you're a beginner to PCs, I suggest reading anything categorized with beginner, minus the electronic components section. You should also check out Athenriel's learning corner, which may be of more use as a beginner.
Note that these users don't know everything - and neither do I (most definitely not me). But you can trust what they have to tell you about PCs much of the time, although some other than others.
And for a more mysterious staffer, there is living180.
There's also Jenny who is the relationship account manager. As far as I know, Jenny has no PCPP account.
Philip, Ryan, and Alex are all the most active and are the ones who you will see doing moderation and will once in a while interact with the community. Alex is normally the one who adds parts to the database, Ryan will more often respond to feedback and questions about the site, and Philip just... Does whatever Philip does.
I'm going to try and keep this all a little simple but detailed. If you're new to all this and scrolling through, don't get intimidated by the technical terms; I give the meaning of them all.
Q: What's a CPU? How do I choose which one to use?
CPUs (central processing units) are the thing that performs most of the calculations and operations in a computer. They process the operating system, user input, and much more. They do this mostly by executing instructions, which tell the computer what to do.
CPUs are typically released in generations with a different micro-architecture and may come on a different socket than the last one. A CPU that uses a different socket than the one on a motherboard will be incompatible with that motherboard. For example, Intel's mainstream Skylake and later Kabylake micro-architecture CPUs will both use the LGA 1151 socket, and so will work on any motherboard using the LGA 1151 socket (assuming the motherboard doesn't need a BIOS update for Kabylake CPUs), but not one with an LGA 1150 or LGA 1155 socket. However, AMD may release sockets compatible with a previous generation of CPUs that have a + at the end of the socket's name. For example, AMD's FM2 socket CPUs are compatible with FM2+ socket motherboards along with FM2+ CPUs.
Clocks and clockspeeds
CPUs work through clocks. With each clock cycle (1 Hz), data moves from place to place, instructions are executed, and so on. Essentially, with each clock cycle, the CPU does what it does. An interesting thing to know is that CPUs know how many clock cycles it will take to execute an instruction. Increasing the amount of clock cycles that happen in a second (AKA increasing the clockspeed, typically measured in GHz with modern CPUs) beyond stock is a process known as overclocking. CPUs that can "officially" be overclocked come with what is known as an unlocked multiplier. Intel CPUs that have unlocked multipliers come with a K or an X at the end of the name. All of AMD's AM3+ CPUs come with unlocked multipliers, along with their FM2+ CPUs with a K at the end of the name. You can look online for overclocking guides for a CPU generation.
Lots of modern desktop and laptop CPUs come with a "boost" feature to increase the clock speed above their "base" clockspeeds automatically. This happens when a CPU core (more on that below) is spending a lot of its time executing (i.e. high CPU utilization on that core), and the CPU isn't going above TDP spec or reaching thermal throttling temperatures, which is usually about 100 degrees celsius. Given those conditions, CPU cores will spend most of their time working at turbo/boost clockspeeds. However, the boost/turbo speed tends to decrease as the number of active CPU cores increases (I have links to tables showing this for Intel CPUs in my profile). These boost features (called Turbo Boost by Intel) are something to consider when choosing a CPU, and are frequently overlooked, making some CPUs such as the i5-6400 appear to perform far worse than more expensive counterparts.
Cores, threads, and hyperthreading
Modern systems use something called threads to switch between constantly and provide the illusion that everything is happening at once. [Software] threads (short for thread of execution), from a CPU's point of view, are essentially ordered sequences of instructions.
Modern CPUs, whether the ones used in desktops and most laptops from Intel or AMD, or the ones used in mobile phones from companies like Qualcomm, use multiple "cores". CPU cores are essentially processing units that can execute a software thread. Using multiple cores allows the CPU to execute multiple threads concurrently. Cores are comprised largely of things called execution units, which are the parts that actually execute instructions, things called architectural states which are beyond the scope of my profile, and usually an L1 cache for fast access to some of the most frequently needed data for the execution of instructions.
The operating system (such as Windows 10) handles the management of software threads. A standard CPU core appears to the operating system as a logical processor. The operating system uses these to assign threads to be executed, and switches between threads appropriately. From the OS's point of view, each logical processor is like a separate CPU core. Logical processors are also called virtual cores, logical cores, and hardware threads.
Programs can be designed to have execution spread out across multiple software threads, which can then be executed simultaneously with multiple cores. This is known as parallelization. Programs that do this are often called multithreaded. It should be noted that at one point adding more threads might do little to nothing in an application, and that sometimes different tasks in an application may have better parallelization than others. The level of parallelization also isn't the same for all applications, sometimes even between ones of the same type. Having a CPU with more cores than can be utilized by the application because of insufficient parallelization leads to the CPU being under-utilized, although the other cores can still be doing something else (i.e. multitasking from the user's POV).
A CPU core can execute multiple software threads through something called SMT, short for simultaneous multithreading. Intel has their own implementation of SMT that is called Hyper-threading, which is often shortened to HT. Intel's hyperthreading, and presumably AMD's implementation of SMT, allows each CPU core to support two logical processors and thus can execute 2 software threads at once. The main goal of this is to achieve better utilization of the CPU's internal resources, namely the execution units. Both logical processors share resources. SMT / HT helps performance because of 2 reasons: One, when one thread is "stalled" such as needing data from RAM, the CPU core can still be executing something, and two, because the execution units of modern, mainstream CPUs are so efficient, some go under-utilized, and the execution of multiple threads at once allow for some idling execution units to be utilized. Keep in mind that because of how an operating system sees hardware threads, hyper-threading will be utilized and improve performance as long as the application scales with more CPU cores aswell. The uplift in multi-threaded performance from HT and likely AMD's implementation is up to ~35%.
IPC / CPI
You cannot directly compare the performance CPUs using different micro-architectures through their clockspeeds. You can only directly compare performance through clockspeeds within a generation and for a certain, common number of physical cores. This is because different micro-architectures have a different ability to execute multiple instructions in a clock cycle along with other improvements that can increase throughput for a period of time and not just individual clockcycles. Why this is is for many, many reasons that might give one micro-architecture an advantage over another. For example, you cannot say that an Intel Core Q6600 overclocked to 3.5GHz would beat an Intel Core i5-6400 because it has a higher clock speed, since the i5 executes more instructions every clock cycle and more. In other words, the i5-6400's Skylake architecture has a greater IPC / CPI (instructions per clock-cycle / clocks per instruction) and an overall better instruction throughput over a period of time, so you can't compare performance to a Q6600 with the much older Intel Core architecture based on clock speeds.
Many modern desktop CPUs have integrated GPUs, negating the need for a graphics card just for video output. These don't have their own video memory, and so allocate a small amount of the system's main memory (RAM) as video memory. Modern integrated GPUs, particularly those from Intel, are typically able to output 4K and do the just just fine for HTPCs. Someone who is gaming and will use the (usually relatively weak) iGPU for gaming can improve performance by improving performance of the main memory, which I will talk about lower down in my profile. Intel's mainstream desktop CPUs (currently LGA1151, and soon whatever will succeed LGA1151) all have integrated GPUs, with the Pentium G4500 and better having a more capable iGPU called Intel HD 530. AMD's FM2+ socket CPUs called APUs come with integrated GPUs and can be identified by the A at the start of their name followed by a number indicating the lineup it's in. AMD's FX CPUs on the AM3+ socket do not come with integrated GPUs.
Choosing your CPU
Now that you know all of this, you can go about trying to choose a CPU for your system.
First, you should think about the planned uses for the system. Someone who is just web browsing, watching videos, and editing documents (also sometimes called a basic use system) won't leverage many cores meaningfully or benefit from high clockspeeds (for a given, recent generation). For them, a lower-end CPU (~$100 USD and lower) is just fine.
Q: What do people mean when talking about "performance"?
I don't really know, and neither does anyone else because one person might be referring to different things entirely from another. But that doesn't stop most from using this term. But to try and clear up some confusion, I'm going to try and list what people normally mean when talking about performance.
When talking about the performance of a CPU for a given task or use, they are probably referring to throughput (which is about getting more done constantly) or execution times (get tasks done faster). When talking about single-threaded performance, people are talking about the performance on a single hardware thread. When talking about multithreaded performance, people are usually referring to the performance with all hardware threads of a CPU executing.
Same thing as CPU, minus the thread parts.
What people refer to when talking about the performance of an SSD or HDD is much more mixed than for CPUs and GPUs. Some may be only referring to sequential reads/writes, some may refer to both sequential and random reads/writes, some may refer to all of that along with sustained write throughput, some may refer to all previously mentioned and mixed workloads throughput, some may be referring to any of the mentioned and access times, and so on.
Really, performance is a meaningless term for SSDs and HDDs because what people are referring to when using it varies so much.
Typically, performance of RAM (or the memory subsystem in general) refers to both access latency and bandwidth. When talking about performance and RAM in a specific task, it is usually used in the way "performance" of a CPU or GPU might be used.
The performance of a CPU cooler almost always refers to how well it cools. So one cooler that is said to perform better than another one should provide lower CPU operating temperatures than the other one.
Normally refers to airflow, and operating temperatures of internal components.
Often refers to the framerates, sometimes minimum framerates included. So when someone says that a CPU or GPU will perform better for gaming, they likely mean that in many recent, popular games, you will get higher average (and maybe minimum) framerates.
Q: What about the CPU cooler? Do I need one? How do they work? What kind should I get?
A: To begin, I'm going to go over how the two primary types of CPU coolers, HSF (heatsink fan, also often called air cooler, below I will refer to HSFs that use heatpipes) and AIO CLC (all in one closed-loop cooler, also often called liquid cooler and water cooler), work.
A HSF has four notable parts that I will talk about: The base, heatpipes, fins, and the fan(s).
The base is copper, which has great thermal conductivity. With HSFs using heatpipes, the heatpipes often extend to the base and make up the base, being flattened. This way, heat from the CPU is directly transferred to the heatpipes. Although another design just has a plate of copper, and then heatpipes. But either way, heat from the CPU gets to heatpipes. The heatpipes contain liquid that, when heaten up, evaporates. This way, the heat is moved away from the processor, and up the heatpipes, where the previously-liquid loses heat to the copper heatpipes that transfer the heat to the heatsink's fins. The now-gas turns back into a liquid after cooling down enough, moving back down to the bottom of the heatsink, restarting the cycle for the heatpipe. At the cooling fins, it's pretty self explanatory. The fins, which are almost always made of aluminum due to cost, should provide a good surface area for better heat dissipation for the fan(s) to blow cooler air on and through them.
AIO CLCs have a few notable parts: the pump, tubes, radiator, and the fan(s).
At the part that goes over the CPU, you will find the copper part that touches the CPU's heatspreader (hopefully not directly because you need thermal paste, more on that further down the page), and a pump. As usual the CPU's heat goes to the copper. The pump moves the liquid (usually a water and ethanol glycol mix) actively, moving the heat through the tubing, to the radiator, and back. At the radiator, things are similar to HSFs. The heat in the liquid moves from the liquid, to the pipes, then to the fins. The fins, as said above, provide a hopefully good surface area for the heat to be dissipated by the fans.
What does all this mean?
Well, first, it means that HSFs like the 212 EVO and AIO CLCs such as the NZXT Kraken x61 work similarly. They both have copper over the CPU for it to be moved elsewhere, and they both rely on a liquid to move the heat away from the CPU to cooling fins, where the heat is then dissipated by the fan(s). The big difference lies in how the liquid is moved. AIO CLCs use a pump, actively moving the liquid, while HSFs rely on phase change - the liquid evaporating then cooling back into a liquid form. Because of this, AIO CLCs can react more quickly to a sudden high load on a CPU. But in the end, they both function much the same.
Now AIO CLCs and HSFs both have their advantages.
-Much lower price floor.
-Tend to be quieter.
-A good one is sufficient for cooling practically any mainstream processor, even when overclocking.
-If the heatsink is big enough and/or processor not power hungry enough, can be used without the fan.
-Fewer points of failure as they have just the fan(s) while AIO CLCs have the pump, fan(s), and tubes that can be damaged.
- Top-down style coolers help cool the voltage regulator circuit (incl heatsink) on the motherboard and tower style ones can blow air on the MOSFET heatsink if short enough.
-As a whole, have a higher performance ceiling (best performing AIO CLCs perform better than best HSFs).
-Rarely have worries about compatibility around the socket (RAM, PCI-e, voltage regulator components and cooling).
-As mentioned above, can cool a processor more quickly than HSFs with a sudden high load as the pump is always running and doesn't rely on phase transition.
-120mm radiator AIO CLCs can be mounted in the vast majority of cases, and 240mm can be mounted in quite a few. While you have to worry about height with HSFs, where many of the best ones are quite tall.
If I'm forgetting any (I'm not mentioning appearances as this depends on the user), please let me know.
Now, with that out of the way, let's see if you should purchase a CPU cooler.
Most modern CPUs come with a stock cooler. This includes the bulk of AMD's AM3+ and FM2+ processors, and Intel's mainstream Skylake, Haswell, and Broadwell processors. On this site, OEM/Tray processors don't come with stock coolers so you are required to use an aftermarket cooler. Some notable exceptions to this rule of stock coolers being included are Intel 2011-3 socket processors, Intel's i5-6600K and i7 6700K, and AMD's 9xxx processors.
The stock cooler, if it's included, is expected by the manufacturer to keep the processor within safe temperatures when the processor is running at stock frequencies (GHz, MHz).
However, stock coolers are often noisy (the Intel Skylake stock cooler isn't terribly loud but has bad noise quality), and many think they look ugly. In these cases, you can get an aftermarket CPU cooler. You will also quite likely need one if you plan on overclocking your CPU.
If you're interested in an aftermarket cooler, you have a few things to consider:
Does the cooler fit in the case? Almost always you will find a CPU cooler clearance measurement in mm in the specs of the case. Similarly, included in almost every cooler's specs you will find the height. It's easy as some google searches to get this information.
For AIO CLCs, you can check the case's product page for compatibility. But usually if you can fit a 120mm or 140mm fan or multiple fans somewhere, you can fit an equivalently-sized AIO CLC. But of course, this isn't always the case.
It's even easier for checking CPU socket compatibility - it's as easy as checking the specs on the cooler's product page. Just a note, some older coolers won't have information updated for newer sockets. A good tip for Intel is, if it's compatible with Haswell (LGA1150), it's also compatible with LGA1151.
Thankfully, however, nearly every cooler, case, and CPU socket on pcpartpicker has compatibility automatically checked. If it can't confirm compatibility where you would need to check yourself, it will tell you at the bottom of a part list.
2. Is the cooler enough?
This is where things get tricky. Now y
More text incoming. Only reason you see this part and the thermal paste part mostly written in my profile is because I had what you see typed already. I'll expand when I have the time.
Q: Should I get thermal paste? Do I need it?
A: Typically, no. I've never seen a cooler that didn't come with thermal paste included with the cooler, or at least pre-applied. Oftentimes the thermal paste, especially with what comes with coolers from companies like Cryorig or Noctua, will be better than many on the market. When it comes to stock coolers, as I already said it's all designed to handle your processor at stocks speeds out of the box, or else they won't be including it. If you want really high-performance thermal paste, then go ahead, but the only time I would consider it is if you're trying to push record-breaking overclocks. Some thermal paste is actually electrically conductive and you can easily damage things with it. If you have a need to change thermal paste and don't need extreme performance but want something cheap and simple I would suggest Thermalright Chill Factor III and Arctic Cooling MX4.
Q: What is an SSD? What are the benefits of SSDs over hard drives? Should I get one?
SSDs are the primary alternative to hard disk drives (HDDs). Instead of using spinning platters to hold data and an "actuator arm" with a read/write head to retrieve or write data from or onto the platters, SSDs use something called NAND flash memory for storing data, which comes in many different types, and a controller that has a CPU in it to communicate with the aforementioned NAND among other things.
The benefits of SSDs
Thanks to their non-mechanical nature, SSDs are much more tolerant to shock and vibration, and don't make noise or vibrations whatsoever. They also use less power and are resistant to magnets. Those are all nice, but when it comes to your experience when using your PC, they bring other, arguably more important benefits.
These are two things:
Thanks to the mechanical actions of a hard drive - the actuator arm having to seek a desired track and the platter having to rotate to the start of the required sector, delays are caused for I/O (input/output). Of course, it depends where the head of the actuator arm and required data on the platter is, but it's possible the head has to travel to the other side completely and the platter has to rotate by over 300 degrees. This adds up a lot into the access time. The average access time for your typical modern 7,200 RPM drive is, IIRC, ~13 ms.
However, an SSD doesn't suffer from mechanical limitations that add to access time. In fact, in any workload from your typical users, SSDs will deliver access times <2 ms.
The low access times (compared to HDDs) provided by SSDs keep something called the queue depth (QD) low. Queue depth indicates the number of outstanding I/O operations. In other words, they keep the amount of read or write operations waiting to be completed low. Think of it like a line of these operations that stack up unless they can be completed in low enough time. SSDs would allow them to be completed in a far lower time than hard drives, keeping the amount of them stacking up lower all the time. In fact, the QD (which you can see in Windows' resource monitor) rarely goes above 6 for most users on an SSD, while it can much more easily go above that with an HDD.
This provides the feel of SSDs that you might see some people mention. Everything will feel snappy with an SSD as long as it's on the SSD. This includes opening a document or an image.
As I mentioned, they have a higher read and write throughput (put simply, moving data faster), notably in the most common data accesses. This is thanks to the parallelization of the NAND flash memory on multiple levels. This allows for your operating system and applications to startup faster. In a gaming PC, load times will be lower. You will be able to copy data faster (small amounts of data, large amounts like a few gigabytes or more depend on the SSD), install stuff faster, and so on.
If these benefits are desirable to you, you can purchase an SSD and can use it for booting your operating system if you want.
Q: How can I choose a motherboard?
Current ideas for this section:
Q: Do I need a dedicated sound card for good audio quality?
Current ideas for this section:
Q: Do I need a video card / graphics card / VGA? What should I look for?
Q: What are some traits of a bad power supply?
Q: What is bottlenecking in a PC?
Bottlenecking is, as commonly used, something keeping back performance. This is typically something caused by the hardware of the system. Now, let's go over the two rules of bottlenecking.
1.: There is always a bottleneck.
No matter what, there is always a bottleneck. For there to be no bottleneck, everything would have to be perfect. Data would have to move instantly, software would have to be perfectly optimized and coded, and so on. But things aren't perfect. So there will always be a bottleneck.
2.: The cause of the bottleneck shifts depending on the application, and what you are doing in said application.
Let's take a game for example.
Say you have a strategy game like Napoleon Total War with the DarthMod. You have a "budget" gaming PC with a G4560, an RX 470, and a 1 TB HDD. You're playing at 1440p in high settings. You start up a battle to familiarize yourself with a new infantry unit you got in the mod. So your infantry unit starts attacking the enemy and you have the in-game "camera" positioned right by your unit. Your framerate lowers, while your CPU utilization is showing to be mostly the same at around 65%, and GPU utilization is at about 100%. What happened? Well, you just found that, in that scenario, your GPU was bottlenecking your framerate. When a GPU is bottlenecking framerate in games, you can lower graphics settings and/or resolution to decrease the load on the GPU until you are either satisfied with your performance or the bottleneck shifts. Let's continue.
So you turn back the resolution to 1080p, and now that you're familiar with the unit, you go start up another match. But this time with way more units on each side and you upped the unit size. You find that your GPU utilization is well below 100%, and your framerates aren't so good as they were when you were checking out the new unit and didn't position the camera close to it. You go and lower graphics settings yet again to see if it would help your framerates,. But it doesn't really. What you're experiencing is a CPU bottleneck. Lowering graphics settings won't help here. The only thing you can do here is overclock your CPU (won't happen on an i3), or get a better performing one. In this case, as Napoleon scales to four threads, an Intel Core i5 would be a good upgrade.
Let's take a step back to when you were loading the second match. There's still a bottleneck. Remember the first rule? You found that it took a whole minute to load. Here, your HDD is "bottlenecking" your loading times. If you replaced the HDD with a good SSD like a Zotac Premium Edition, your bottleneck will be less severe, and you will get much faster in-between loading times.
So, to recap: A bottleneck is what is holding back performance in any one moment. The cause of a bottleneck will shift depending on the application and what you are doing in the application. Bottlenecks can usually be lessened or the cause of the bottleneck shifted. While I gave a game as an example, the same concepts of bottlenecking apply for far more than just games and the CPU, GPU, and storage drive in them.
A: It represents my frustration caused by the users on this site. No, it's not people asking nooby questions that we all would've asked when we were beginners. No, I'm talking users who say you're being antagonistic because you pointed out that a PSU is bad (and provided evidence) or users who make unfounded or outlandish claims and never back them up despite being asked to multiple times. I think it fits nicely.
Last addition: 2/4/2017
Check out my learning thread for more that may not be here.
Will Hyper-Threading Improve Processing Performance?
Intel Core i5 Turbo Boost Frequency Tables
Intel Core i7 Turbo Boost Frequency Tables (doesn't include Broadwell-E i7s)
An Understanding of Temperature on AMD CPUs and APUs
TweakTown's Ultimate Intel Skylake Overclocking Guide
Ask Ars: what is a CPU thread?
TechPowerUp's CPU Database
What is Aggregate CPU Frequency and why is it wrong?
Power supply stuff
A Detailed Look Into PSUs - TechPowerUp
Everything You Need to Know About Power Supplies
Why does a better power supply mean a better computing experience? - corsair.com
How Does My Power Supply Impact Overclocking?
On ripple, and its effects on overclocking
PSU platform database
Why 80 PLUS is Irrelevant to You When Buying a PSU - HardOCP
PSU review database - RealHardTechX
PSU review database - TechPowerUp
Go here to check if a power supply has earned its 80+ badge.
Single Rail vs. Multi Rail Explained
PSU Platform Database
Everything You Need to Know About Power Supply Protections
The Importance of Hold Up Time
Defining Power Supply Voltage Ripple & Its Real-World Impact
General audio stuff
Do you need a headphone amp?
Headphone frequency response guide
How On-Board Audio Works
How Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) Works
On the Measurement and Audibility of Headphone Break-in
Realtek audio codec comparison table with datashaeets
Gaming GPU benchmarks
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Benchmarks (WHQL Driver Update) - by Matt at Hardware Unboxed
RX 460 4GB vs. 2GB VRAM Benchmark - Is more better?
AMD RX 480 4GB vs. 8GB Benchmark – Is 8GB VRAM Worth It?
The Best sub-$200 graphics card – GTX 1050 Ti vs. RX 470 / RX 460 4GB
Can the RX 480 Dethrone The GTX 1060? [Crimson ReLive Update]
GTX 1060 vs. RX 480 - An Updated Review
AMD vs. Nvidia: All Current Gen GPUs Benchmarked [16 New Games]
Gaming CPU benchmarks
Every Core i5 Generation Benchmarked: Lynnfield to Skylake, 7 years of i5 Goodness!
5 Generations of Core i7 Processors: 2600K, 3770K, 4770K, 5775C & 6700K Gaming Comparison
The Skylake Core i3 (51W) CPU Review: i3-6320, i3-6300 and i3-6100 Tested (not strictly gaming benchmarks but there are some)
i3-6100 with and without Hyper-threading in games with a few different graphics cards
Best Budget CPU Face-Off! Pentium G4560 vs Core i3 6100 vs AMD FX-6300
Pentium G4560 Review: The Best Budget CPU We've Tested!
Graphics cards and GPUs - General
Specs Explained: Video Card
Gamersnexus GPU dictionary (best used in combination with above article)
TechPowerUp's GPU Database
Titan X (Pascal) Performance: PCI-E 3.0 x8 vs x16
Dual channel DDR3 vs single channel DDR3
RAM Battle: 4GB vs. 8GB vs. 16GB Gaming Performance (a little dated)
Skylake processors can be damaged by DDR3 RAM unless its voltage is 1.35V.
DDR3 RAM vs ECC DDR3 RAM performance
Advantages of ECC Memory
DDR4 Memory at 4000 MT/s, Does It Make a Difference? (includes gaming benchmarks and application benchmarks)
Which is The Best Position for a Tower CPU Cooler?
How Ambient Temperatures Affect Your PC
The Basics of Case Fan Bearings - Which Bearing is Best?
us.hardware.info's 2014 120mm fan comparison table including dBA at 7V and 12V, airflow, airflow with radiator, and basic specs.
140mm fan version of the above
Beginner's Guide to Water Cooling Your PC
How To Read a Fan's Data Sheet (and specifications)
For those lurking and thinking about just getting a pre-built, and upgrading it, here's a reminder not to and why. - /r/buildapc
Your typical prebuilt "gaming PC" - i7, $60 GPU, piece of junk power supply.
Hard Disk (Hard Drive) Performance – transfer rates, latency and seek times
How do solid state hybrid drives work? - /r/explainlikeimfive
Storage Tiering with Flash and DRAM
SSD Throughput, Latency and IOPS Explained
Understanding the Western Digital SATA Drive Lineup (2014)
Speeds, Feeds and Needs – Understanding SSD Endurance
Self-encrypting drives: Understanding the Strategy of Security
Why does my hard drive report less capacity than indicated on the drive's label?
Anatomy of a Hard Drive
Hard Disk Operation
Death and the unplugged SSD: How much you really need to worry about data retention
Software and Operating Systems
How to stress-test your PC hardware
Overclockers 2015 Benchmark Buffet
What application do you always install on your computer and recommend to everyone? pt. 1
What application do you always install on your computer and recommend to everyone? pt. 2
Security (links in this part will often fit in with others, but anything involving security will go here)
Ransomware Overview (a list of ransomware with links to decryptors and general information about the ransomware)
Daniel Selifonov - A Password is Not Enough
Malware and Virus Removal Guide
ETC / Will Be Organized Later
Decibel chart to give you an idea of noise.
AMD Radeon Fury X PCI-Express Scaling
GeForce GTX 980 PCI-Express Scaling
Micro Stuttering with SLI or CrossFire - notebookcheck.net
FPS Benchmark: NVidia ShadowPlay vs. AMD GVR vs. FRAPS (note: from 2014, may be outdated)
Trust Backblaze's drive reliability data?
An Often Overlooked Game Performance Metric—Frame Time
GPU Reviews: Why Frame Time Analysis is important
Skylake & Haswell-E PCIe lane misconception
Database of UPS inverter output waveforms
Performance Characteristics of Common Transports and Buses
us.hardware.info's case test result tables
anandtech's case test results
When No Redundancy Is More Reliable – The Myth of Redundancy
If there's another link you want or want to know something not in any of the above or in the links in my learning thread, PM me.
1. Learn google search tricks, and have good googling skills in general. Seriously, this can get you places.
Three of my favorite tricks are:
Making google search specific wording. I do this by putting quotation marks around what I want it to search for letter-by letter.
Having google search a specific site or domain. I do this by just typing site: and whatever the website or domain is.
Using a minus sign before a word, which will make google ignore results with that word.
2. Read reviews from professionals. Then read some more. You can learn a lot from them, whether it's about graphics cards, motherboards, or even power supplies. Sometimes in discussion threads about reviews you can find even more.
3. Don't be afraid to ask questions, no matter how stupid. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable had to start somewhere, and that place isn't where they are now.
4. When you finally learn something, it helps to ask yourself if it matters and how much it really matters if it does. This is a step that I didn't take early on and lots of others don't take that shouldn't be forgotten.
TDP * (OC MHz / Stock MHz) * (OC VCore / Stock VCore)2 = x
ex: 91 * (4600 / 3500) * (1.25 / 1.1)2 = 154 Watts
A rough estimation of power consumption of an overclocked CPU or GPU under load. Of course it won't be perfect because VCore isn't constant and because of the frequent, small changes in load; but it helps give an idea of increase of power consumption. Realistically, actual power consumption will be lower than the estimation in use.
(CAS Latency / I/O bus clock AKA real frequency) * 1,000 = x
ex: (16 / 1200) * 1,000 = 13.33 nanoseconds
(CAS Latency / Transfer rate in MT/s) * 2,000 = x
ex: (16 / 2400) * 2,000= 13.33 nanoseconds
An equation where x represents a basic SDRAM response time. It takes the CL, which is in clock cycles, and turns it into the amount of time in nanoseconds. Lower is always better here, but of course other factors such as the DIMM speeds, bus utilization, amount of ranks, and so on must be considered when it comes to the access latency (the time between when a data request is sent by a CPU core and when the data returns to the core that requested it). This result is constant in measurements for both idle latency, which is the latency seen by the CPU in an idle system - the best case scenario for latency, and loaded latencies, which are the access latencies when there is a level of load on the memory controller leading to memory requests being queued up in the memory controller's request queue. Ultimately, the CAS latency doesn't matter a whole lot for memory latency. Focus on increasing the DIMM speeds, as they not only decrease unloaded/idle latency, but also decrease loaded latencies linearly with an increase in DIMM speed.
x = ((P/E Cycle Endurance * Capacity in GB) / (host writes per day in GB * write amplification factor)) / 365
ex: x = ((3,000 * 500) / (80 * 1.5)) / 365
x = 12500 / 365
x = 34 years
An equation where X represents an estimated lifespan of an SSD in years. This isn't the most useful because the write amplification isn't always constant, and you probably aren't writing roughly the same amount in host writes everyday. However, it's good for showing a worst case scenario for an SSD to get an idea of how long it would last assuming it doesn't get killed by a random part failure, a power surge, or firmware corruption. You can also have different host write amounts with different write amplification factors in this equation.
Aris Mpitziopoulos (crmaris) at TechPowerUp and Tom's Hardware
Pavel Bocek (Behemot) at HardwareInsights
Paul Johnson at HardOCP
Allen Campbell at KitGuru
Jeremy Schrag (OklahomaWolf) and Tony Day (Tazz) at jonnyguru
Peter Donnel at eTeknix
Not in English:
Tinpoint at TweakPC (in German)
Hendrik Engelbertz and Nico Schleippmann (Microflop) at ComputerBase (in German)
JackOP at itocp (in Chinese)
The_Mask on tweakers (in Dutch)
Oles Paholok at GECID (in Russian)
Mathias Brockmann at Hardwareluxx (in German)
Reviewers who no longer do reviews:
E. Fylladitakis at anandtech
Steve Burke at GamersNexus
Damiano Villa at CoolingTechnique (Italian)
Lawrence Lee at silentpcreview
Max Page at FrostyTech
Ed Hume (ehume) at Overclockers
VSG at Thermalbench
Ron Perillo at Modders INC. (2015 and onwards)
Philipp Moosdorf at Hardwareluxx (German)
Remember to always look at multiple reviews to see how a cooler stacks up in performance. Even though the tests from the above reviewers are relatively reliable, even they can find one performing worse or better than it should.
Reviewers who no longer do reviews:
Cameron Shears at SkinneeLabs
Chris Ramseyer at Tom's Hardware
Billy Tallis at AnandTech
Lyle Smith, Tucker Mindrum, Adam Armstrong, and Chris Thomas at Storage Review
Sean Webster at TheSSDReview
Ian S (?) at CDRLabs
Jonathan Kwan at aph networks
Hilbert Hagedoorn at guru3D
Ryan Shrout at PC Perspective
Wolfgang Andermahr at ComputerBase (German)
Allen Campbell at KitGuru
Jeff Kampman and Robert Wild at The Tech Report
Brent Justice and Grady McKinney at HardOCP
Steve Burke of GamersNexus
Matt Knuppel and Steven Walton of Hardware Unboxed (for gaming benchmarks only)
???? of Rocket Jump Ninja